Ikes in Action: Planting the Seeds For Great Community Relations
Ohio >> The Central Ohio Chapter’s efforts to improve air and water quality are taking root through a project to rebuild a riparian buffer on Alum Creek.
The chapter grounds consist of four acres of woodland and one acre of bottom land, which includes 1,000 feet of riparian buffer. The area had previously been mowed for agricultural use and was covered with invasive grasses. The chapter is working to return the land to its natural state.
Through a partnership with the Ohio Nut Growers Association, the chapter received tree nuts – and valuable tips on how to grow them. Chapter members “overwintered” the nuts (put them into cold storage) to force germination in the spring. Then members and other volunteers potted 500 stratified and germinated seedlings. By the fall, 250 of those seedlings had survived the weather and wildlife and were ready to be planted.
To engage members of the community, the chapter hosted a fall “Tree-Athalon” filled with family-friendly activities, including cookouts, hay rides, nature hikes, bird watching – and of course, roasted nuts. Folks who attended the event could also take home a tree to plant in their own yards.
Over the course of the two-day event, more than 40 people visited the chapter to help out. Trees were tagged, tubed, and/or fenced, with cardboard and llama wool encircling the base of each tree to keep out weeds. Yes, you read that correctly: llama wool. The chapter president owns a herd of llamas whose wool was used to insulate the tree plantings and will help insulate the walls of an old carriage house once it has been rehabbed for use as a chapter activity/program shelter. The llamas were also a hit with visiting families!
This spring, in conjunction with Earth Day, the chapter will host a spring wildflower hike and second Tree-Athalon to check on the plantings, complete any needed maintenance, and do what is needed to ensure the trees mature. (The chapter is working with the American Chestnut Foundation on caring for the Ohio chestnut seedlings.) Chapter members will also plant fruit and nut trees in community gardens for Arbor Day.
The Central Ohio Chapter has many more plans to raise its visibility and continue conservation work in regional communities, including an array of participatory programming at local festivals ranging from EcoPoetry to Edutainment Performances. We know these efforts are sure to bear fruit – and nuts!